Barbados’ largest credit union is taking the dramatic step of testing all its employees who are based at its headquarters and one of its rural branches for the COVID-19 viral illness.

In the latest development, LeVere Catlyn, the acting Group Chief Executive Officer of Barbados Public Workers’ Co-operative Credit Union Ltd. (BPWCCUL) informed staff in a memorandum dated January 3, that COVID-19 testing will be facilitated for all employees of its Belmont, St Michael headquarters and the Emerald City Branch in St Philip.

The development followed what officials of the Ministry of Health and Wellness have described as a “super-spreader” event on Boxing Day, when a yet undisclosed number of people attended a night time Bus Crawl reportedly aboard at least five buses which touched several shops and bars across the island.

Almost 200 cases discovered in 48 hours have been linked to the event. Government has since responded with a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, tightening restrictions on public gatherings and banning recreational and competitive sports, meetings, dances, fetes and similar entertainment events. Several businesses across the island have also temporarily shut their doors to have employees tested and quarantined and to undertake industrial cleaning of the properties.

Catlyn informed BPWCCUL employees the move was precautionary and did not directly impact the other branches at Black Rock and Bridgetown in St Michael and Mile-And-A- Quarter, St. Peter.

“This is out of an abundance of caution to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff and members following the Boxing Day “super-spreader”, the acting CEO noted.

According to the memo to staff: “Please be advised that arrangements are being made for staff to be tested privately at our Belmont Branch location on Monday January 4, 2021 and Tuesday January 5, 2021 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.”

The credit union’s management added: “Any staff member visiting either branch on or after December 27, would be deemed to have possibly been exposed, and as such, we would ask those persons to come forward for testing.

“Additionally, any staff who feels that they may otherwise have been exposed can also come forward for testing. If you have already decided on your own to go for testing based on the possibility of exposure, you do not need to have a second test.”

BPWCCUL said it had engaged a private medical team to undertake the testing of its employees and the testing will be carried out in groups of 20 by alphabetical order.

The credit union, whose members are mainly from the public sector or have connections to the public service, has asked all its employees to declare if they attended the now infamous bus crawl or if they came into contact with any people who may have attended the event. (IMC1)